Santa Clara University

SCU Engineering News

Making it easier to phone home

Arturo Posadas

When Arturo Posadas learned of an opportunity to help the African American community improve their chances of connecting with family members in their home countries through selection of a reliable phone card, he was intrigued. Based on his own family’s experience, he knew how fraught with frustration this situation could be. When, at the age of 10, Arturo moved to the United States from Peru, his parents would often have trouble calling home using a prepaid card.

“The first thing my advisor, Professor Silvia Figueira, told me was that calls often can’t get through and many phone card companies are notorious for ripping customers off. Africa has one of the worst connection rates,” he said; “calls drop or never go through. While the customer waits for a dial tone, minutes are ticking off their prepaid allotment. In many cases, there is no customer service department available for lodging a complaint. So the idea for this project is to create a dynamic system of ranking the cards, based on performance, so customers can choose the most reliable phone card provider in their price range.“

Arturo is working with Silicon Valley-based PalmCall on the project. PalmCall customers will log in and select the most reliable phone card based on where the call is going, how much they want to spend, and how many minutes they want. “It didn’t sound that complicated at first,” said Arturo, “I thought I could create an iPhone application, but once we got to work, I discovered we first needed to have a web server platform for telecommunications before even getting started with the ranking process. It’s taking longer than I expected, but I plan to continue working with PalmCall to get it all done, even if it means working beyond Senior Design,” he said.

“I was new to all this and didn’t know anything about telecommunications when I started, but it’s been interesting working as an intern at PalmCall. I like software engineering and solving problems. I like being able to help people by taking away some of their frustration.”